Not all distractions are external. In business we have enough challenges without letting our own minds get in the way of success.
We tend to wrap a lot of who we are up in what we do. For many of us in business, life has gotten more competitive, busy, and stressful, so we don’t need to be sabotaging ourselves on top of it all.
As an entrepreneur, leader and business consultant I’ve had the opportunity to see a lot of great things get done and also a lot of nothing much happening and disasters in the mix.
Once you know what to look for, the results were often predictable.
A Lot of Ideas
Sarah worked for a lot of years in a corporate environment in process management ultimately getting chopped a couple of years ago in a downsizing round of layoffs. I met her a few months ago to hear her business plans and see where we could work together or help each other out.
Sarah owns a small business training company focused on start-ups and told us she has at least 100 killer ideas for other businesses. When we pressed, she still hadn’t actively launched the current business and was waiting for some life events to pass before really getting into it.
A Lot of Companies
Robert considers himself a serial entrepreneur. If an opportunity comes up, he is quick to jump on it and start a new venture. He has somewhere between eight and ten businesses underway. I can’t remember the exact number because it changes constantly. I can’t even remember what most of them are. But Robert is convinced that being a serial entrepreneur like Richard Branson is the formula to riches.
A Lot of Projects
Dan is the owner of a new business training and consulting company. He believes in getting things done. The more things, the better. So he is launching three new training courses, getting certified by two new coaching programs and targeting three different markets all in the next two months. Dan doesn’t have a marketing list, engine or even a fleshed out network yet. But that won’t stop him because Dan is about taking action.
Pat is an overloaded project manager with great intentions. Deep down, he wants all the projects to be successful, but as soon as one project derails, he has to focus all his effort on that project to get it back on track. Unfortunately, with complex projects and large teams, projects go off track on a regular basis. So Pat is always reacting even though he would like to be more proactive.
The Obvious Problems
Some the problems are straightforward. So we’ll tackle those first and then get to the underlying and often hidden issues. These are some of the standard problems:
- Ideas only matter if you can implement them.
- Serial means one at a time, not many at a time.
- Lack of focus.
- Lack of self-discipline.
- Action needs results for success.
The Real Distractions Are In Your Mind
Problems with self-image, self-worth and fear are the three biggest underlying emotional drivers of the distracted business driver’s mind.
We take a lot of our meaning and purpose from what we do. While entrepreneurs tend to be far more optimistic about our chances of success, we also have “I can’t let myself fail” attitude.
Deep down we know the numbers are statistically against us, and that fear could paralyze us. Instead, we push through that fear into action, lots of it.
- We become addicted to the image of being a visionary entrepreneur and the ideas themselves become the most important thing.
- We tie our self-image into being a struggling start-up and refuse to move on to the growth and profit.
- We don’t know what to do next or fear to make a mistake so we get so busy we manage to avoid the decision entirely.
- If we have a lot of companies then if one is not successful, at least we aren’t a failure.
- We don’t “work on the business” because our clients need us and… action.
- We live for the short-term payoff or adrenaline rush rather than having the self-discipline to defer gratification and achieve the big rewards.
- We define who we are and our place in the world through the business, rather than let our business be defined by who we are.
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Photo Credits (Modified): Flickr/Andrew Huff